Dear Dahlia Doctor – I CAN’T Keep The Slugs Away!!

HELP! Dahlia Doctor!!

The slugs! They just keep coming and coming!! What do I do?! What can I do!

Slug War Soldier

Dear Slug War Soldier,

Those pests seem to keep coming back no matter what we do.

Here are some solutions that you can try:

  • Egg shells – break up some egg shells and spread them around your plants. Slugs don’t like sliding across them.
  • Chalk – grind it up and spread it around in a thick border. Not only will this give plants a calcium boost, but those slimy slugs won’t want to cross that line!
  • Beer – the standard beer trap works wonders. Get an empty can of tuna fish or cat food and fill it with beer; set it out in the evening. Let those stinkers know that the party is at your house this summer and then pick them out and toss them out in the morning. You can also share some beer with the flowers, I’m sure they’ll thank you, too!
  • Cups, Pringles cans, juice/milk jugs – cut the bottoms off to create 2-4″ tall cylinders and place them around your growing dahlias. The slugs will have a difficult time getting over that wall. Just be careful not to cut yourself when making these.
  • Have any leftover charcoal from that barbeque that you didn’t invite us to? Just sprinkle some of the charcoal dust from your briquettes around the area that you want to protect from those evil slugs and they will stay the heck away. You can toss a few briquettes into a bag and stomp on them or hammer away – whatever you need to do to get your frustration at the slugs out.
  • If those containers you made aren’t enough – meaning you have some sneaky slugs in your ‘hood – then wrap a piece of duct tape (sticky side out) around that container you have at the base of your plant. That will definitely keep those slugs out.
  • Finished with that newspaper yet? Ready to give up on that crossword? – If you roll up entire sections of newspaper (Our team didn’t win? Great! I mean, Better luck next time, Mariners. Use the Sports section! – it has to be thick) Stick a rubber band around the middle so it will keep its rolled-up shape – then dampen the entire roll and place near your dahlias in the evening. When morning comes, and you head out in your robe (no need for the neighbors to need to see your PJs with puppies and kittens on them, is there?) to get the morning paper so you can try at the next crossword, walk over to where you left the damp roll and pick up the entire thing and toss it into the garbage. Just be careful not to let any slugs and earwigs fall out. Yes, earwigs like damp newspaper, too – though they like crumpled up balls better.

Hope this gives you some ammo to use against those squishy, slimy, just-plain-icky foes!

- The Dahlia Doctor

Dear Dahlia Doctor, My Tubers Are Squishy

Dear Dahlia Doctor,

I stored my tubers in plastic bags with vermiculite in my basement at approximately 43 degrees Fahrenheit.

Why are some tubers squishy and shrunk and others are firm and normal?

Squishy Tuber

Just look at how squishy they are!!

Squishy tuber mysteriously damaged even when stored correctly

How did these get so squishy when they were stored in the correct manner?!

Help me, Dahlia Doctor! What went wrong to make me lose these tubers?! Did I do something wrong when storing them? I followed the common storage methods and they have worked successfully for me in previous years.



Unfor-squished Circumstances


Dear Unfor-squished,
It looks like the tubers that are squishy were put in storage when they were still damp; too much moisture in the packaging will cause rot.  

The ones that are shriveled were probably allowed to dry too long before they were stored.  It also happens that some tubers that are narrow and/or flat will not keep because they dehydrate from the storage in dry vermiculite.  

After cutting, the tubers should only be allowed to stand before packaging and storing for a few hours. During that period the outer skin and necks will dry sufficiently for storage.  Thicker/larger tubers will retain a little more moisture and tend to rot when stored in plastic or saran wrap if not properly dried before storage.  

Tubers should always be checked a couple of times during the storage period. With regular inspection, tubers that are starting to rot can be discarded and will not spread rot to other tubers within the storage container. 

- The Dahlia Doctor